EFF calls for Eskom board member’s head

Eskom board member Mark Lamberti does not meet the prescripts of the public utility’s code of ethics or high ethical standard required of people in such important public positions, the EFF said on Wednesday.

The party called for his resignation after a former employee who accused Associated Motor Holdings of race and gender discrimination won her case in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, which found that her dignity had been impaired.

AMH, its parent company Imperial Holdings and Lamberti – Imperial’s CEO – could now be liable for a payout of damages to chartered accountant Adila Chowan.

The court also ordered Imperial and Lamberti to pay Chowan’s costs.

Damages have not yet been set.

EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said during a previous Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprise oversight meeting at Eskom, the party “raised the matter of his racist and gender-based discriminatory conduct” directly with Lamberti.

“He made a commitment that if the court [found] against him, he will resign with immediate effect. This was after the EFF raised the matter initially when Mr Lamberti was appointed to the Eskom board in January,” Ndlozi said.

“Mr Lamberti is not fit to hold any board position in our state-owned entities, particularly a position [on the] Eskom board that has seen turbulences due to unprincipled characters in the recent past.”

Code of ethics

Ndlozi argued that, in terms of Eskom’s code of ethics, “Eskom commits itself to upholding its values and ethical standards and demonstrating this to all its stakeholders”.

“Therefore, Eskom’s directors and employees are required to apply the Code of Ethics in their conduct. Mr Lamberti does not meet the prescripts of Eskom Code of Ethics or high ethical standard required of people in such important public positions.”

Ndlozi said the EFF wrote to the Minister of Public Enterprises, the chairperson of the Eskom board and the chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises to demand Lamberti’s removal.

“We also wrote to Mr Lamberti himself requesting him to step down as he had made a commitment to do so in the event that the court find against him. The statement released on Tuesday morning by Imperial Holdings, which maintains that there were no findings of race or gender discrimination against Imperial and Lamberti, is an attempt to downplay the severity of the court judgement.

On Tuesday, Bloomberg reported that Lamberti apologised for remarks made to Chowan after he was found guilty of impairing her dignity when he referred to her as “female employment-equity”.

In its statement, Imperial Holdings said it had noted the High Court judgment, in which there were no findings of race or gender discrimination against AMH, Imperial or Lamberti.

The company’s Esha Mansingh said with regard to the impairment of dignity claim against Imperial and Lamberti, the court had proportioned 30% of the costs, with damages yet to be proven.

“Mr Lamberti deeply regrets that his comments were upsetting to Mrs Chowan. It was not his intention to insult or demean her in any way and he apologises unreservedly.”

News24 contacted Lamberti for comment, but he said he had been advised not to speak about the case. — Fin 24

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